An IFS Therapy Session
The IFS process has a specific sequence of steps. It starts with 6Fs (Find, Focus, Flesh out, Feel, beFriend, Fears) – 6 steps of getting acquainted with a Part. It continues with 6 steps of getting access to a deeper, often hidden aspect of the Client’s personality – an Exile – to free it from the pain it is holding. It is not a mechanical process and some steps may happen in a different order, or parallelly. Let’s take a closer look at a typical IFS therapy session.
One IFS therapy session may not be enough
The whole process may take much longer than a session. Maybe a dozen sessions. Maybe more. The final goal is for the client to build relations of trust with their Parts and to make place for more Self energy in their system.
Safety is crucial. When you are in an IFS therapy session, the Therapist/Practitioner is the one taking care of your safety, but any time you have any doubt, feel unease about answering a question or looking inside, voice it. It is always beneficial to stop and make sure you feel safe.
What would a first IFS therapy session look like?
The Internal Family Systems Therapist or Practitioner will start with a standard interview. As a minimum, they may ask you about your past and current therapeutic experience and medication, how to contact you, and might want to know if you’re sharing your home with anyone.
The next question you might expect during your first IFS therapy session would be “What is it that made you call?”. The IFS Therapist or Practitioner will invite you to introduce your topic to have a larger picture of your internal landscape. While listening to you they may identify different elements of your personality, called Parts, and how they interact with each other. Read more about Parts Work in IFS Therapy.
Depending on your experience with the IFS model, they may give you a short introduction to the model and explain the flow of the session.
If you are willing to proceed, you will be asked to name a Part you would like to know better during this first IFS session. You will be asked when and how it manifests in your life, and if it is OK to get to know it better now.
The next step is a U-turn: it consists in turning your attention inwards to check if you currently feel the specific emotion or bodily sensation associated with that Part or if you can recall such a time. Once you locate the Part, you may be requested to ask it about what it is doing for you. It is important to understand the intention of the Part. The Therapist or Practitioner will invite you to initiate a dialogue with the Part starting their questions with “Ask the Part…”
It is your choice
You may choose how much you want to share and how much you want to keep for yourself.
There is one question characteristic to the IFS process: “How do you feel towards this Part?” It is meant to invite more Self energy in contact with the Part.
Independently of how far you reach during the session, the Therapist/Practitioner will make sure you and your Parts are safe, before the closure of the session.
*I am using they/them instead of he/she to avoid gender bias. “They” does not stand for plural here.
Do you want to learn more about IFS therapy?
Get access to our free 3-day IFS Online Intro Course.